How To Have A Green Thumb

I have often thought about what it is about some people that makes them good gardeners and what it is about others that makes them just the opposite.  Like child prodigies, some individuals are just gifted with the talents required to allow them to excel at a certain skill, but for the rest of us “normal” people we have to spend a lifetime learning how to succeed.  So, what is it that goes into making a gardener successful?

June Check List

What a crazy, back and forth spring this has been.  It was the wettest on record, followed by the sunniest Memorial Day Weekend in 15 years and now we are into the unpredictable month of June when we can either get “June Gloom” or glorious sunshine.  While any of us who have lived here very long know that summer doesn’t really start until the 5th of July, I think it is safe to say that whatever June brings us the gardening season is in full swing and there is work to do.  Here are some important chores to put on our calendars...

The Wonderful & Weird World Of Carnivorous Bog Plants

One of the things that has drawn me into the world of horticulture is the incredible diversity of plants that inhabit our planet.  When you consider the range of environments from Death Valley to the frozen tundra of the north and the fact that there are plants adapted to grow under all these various conditions, it is truly mind boggling.  For me, carnivorous bog plants are the personification of total weirdness when it comes to the plant world and the really cool part about them is that we can grow them in our gardens very easily.  

Bonkers Over Begonias

I confess, growing up in southern California, I have always had an affection for begonias.  My very first purchase, at the young age of 8, was from the county fair and was a rhizomatous variety that I grew for many years.  As it got too large for its pot, I would break off sections and root them to share with all the elderly widows in the neighborhood.  In return, they gave me homemade cookies and slices of lemon pie (Mrs. Brown made the absolute best lemon pie, from scratch no less).  While I have never met a begonia I didn’t like, the number of varieties to choose from is far too numerous to cover in a short column like this, so I am going to focus on three of my favorites that are garden worthy...

Words Of Encouragement

I know what you all are thinking: “Will spring ever come?”  It’s a fair question but I can assure you that spring has already come and we are well on our way to summer, although that probably doesn’t make you feel any better.  Beyond a doubt, this has been the worst spring weather I can remember since moving to the northwest 30 years ago.  Do not despair, it’s not as bad as it seems....

Acer Palmatumitis

One on my first plant addictions, that began years ago and will never be cured, is an affinity for all things Japanese maple.  I just don’t see how anyone can pass on a maple!  Not only are they stunning architectural plant specimens to admire, but they always have outstanding fall color as well.  Three main species of Japanese maple to utilize are Acer palmatum (typical garden maple varieties and hence the name of my own disease), Acer japonicum (downy maples), and Acer shirawasawanum (the full moon maples).  There are many beautiful varieties available to home gardeners from all these species that come in a myriad of colors and textures to surprise even the pickiest of plant people.  With hundreds of distinct flavors around there truly is a maple for every spot in the garden!

Rediscover Rhododendrons

Springtime has arrived and the multitudes of Rhododendrons are blooming….. Our state flower shines in every color imaginable and I am here to remind you of this one old adage – flowers come and flowers go - so discover the different foliages of Rhododendrons!  We all salivate for spring flowers, but after the blooms are done we need attractive leaves.  Rhodies offer not only every shade of green, in all kinds of shapes/sizes, but also some variegated foliages, many with stunning color on new growth as well.  There are thousands of nice bloomers, but remember to look for one with nice foliage as well.